1. Do you think you have a competitive advantage in a match where there is crosswind or headwind/tailwind or no wind and why?
I think I have an advantage when there's some wind, regardless of which way it blows, because I'd rather jump serve with wind than without and think it tends to be a little harder for my opponent when there's wind. Jen and I have typically done well in windy tournaments, I think, due to our ability to adjust our game and play a structured form of "wind ball", i.e. lower sets and passing.
2. What is your favorite type of venue - a beach (which beach?) or inland where there is more a stadium type set up?
I love playing at the beach, generally that's my number one choice of venues. In the U.S., Hermosa/Manhattan is my favorite because of all the die hard fans that come out. Phuket Thailand is probably the most beautiful beach I've ever played on though. There are exceptions to the beach rule, however, such as playing under the Eiffel Tower and in London at Horse Guards Parade. Both those venues beat the beach hands down.
3. What position do you think is most useful to play indoors to get the skills to make an easy transition to the beach?
This is an easy one, outside hitter. As an outside you have to perform the greatest number of skills and tend to touch the ball most often after the setter, both helpful in transitioning to the beach game where you need to posses all the skills and are required to touch the ball every time it comes over the net.
4. What young Americans do you think we should watch out for in the coming years?
I'm not familiar with all of them so my answer is biased. Kirby Burnham and Stevi Robinson from USC are both really strong players that I believe are going to pursue a professional career. Emily Day is already competing on the World Tour and has a lot of potential to break through in the next year or so, as well as Summer Ross.
5. How many ounces of suntan/sun screen lotion do you think you use in a year?
I'd guesstimate around 100 or so, depends on how many hot places we play. If the suns out though I'm definitely putting it on from head to toe and I always use sunscreen with zinc oxide on my face.
6. What is your diet? What kinds of food are best the day before a tournament, and day of to stay fueled but not full?
What's best depends on what feels best for your body, I've done a lot trial and error and tried a lot of different fad diets to see if they feel right for me and that means a lot more than, "does this keep me looking fit?". At breakfast I eat the most carbs for the day, I have an omlette with a slice of bread or two and each meal after that I try to eat mainly protein and veggies. If I feel like I'm depriving myself too much though I don't hesitate to eat something really yummy even if there are too many carbs in it, especially since on the road sampling local fare is one of my favorite things to do. Before a tournament I've learned that I have to eat a good amount to feel energetic the next day. The night before tournaments I kind of go for it, but try to be mindful that what ever I'm putting in my body will serve it in some capacity. Not a lot of sugar or sodium for sure.
7. How do you handle the travel, time changes, etc, and still stay on your game and keep in shape?
Travel has gotten easier the longer I've done it and it helps that I love to travel. I've learned little tricks throughout the years that help a lot, like you can't take a nap when you get in somewhere, you might be deathly tired, but if you can stay awake until it's time to go to sleep in that time zone you will be much better off. I also always travel with ear plugs and an eye mask because you never know how loud or bright a hotel might be. It's getting easier and easier to find gyms on the road too so that's not a problem or I sometimes go on runs, it's a great way to see a new place you just have to make sure you don't get lost!
8. When you made the transition from an indoor collegiate player to a professional beach player, what was the toughest adjustment to your game you needed to make?
Getting used to the sand is by far the most difficult thing right off the bat. Learning to move and jump in it is a skill you have to work at and then adjusting your timing in the sand is tough as well. Almost everyone making the transition to the sand wants to run in super early for their approach, but once you learn how to move in the sand you can wait and see the set before you start your approach to hit, which the longer you play the more important that becomes.